Tuesday, February 5, 2008

From the Mouth of John Simon

I just happened to pull up John Simon’s Broadway.com review of the new London Parade CD, a show I just happened to be referencing for a blog entry while I am on my lunch break.

I think what Simon has to say is ingenious about the debate concerning the merit of non-comedic musicals, a debate which I recently addressed in my blog entry “The Strange Case of Dr. Brooks and Mr. LaChiusa: Seriously? Make 'em Laugh!” To add to the discussion, I quote him here and encourage all to read his entire review. I disagree with his thoughts on Jason Robert Brown’s music, but it is all interesting nonetheless.

From John Simon’s review:
Parade is one of those controversial "dark" musicals that seem to defy the alleged essence of a genre questionably known as "musical comedy." There is no compelling artistic reason for a musical to end happily. There is, though, a practical reason: Audiences like to leave smiling.

Still, when you think of it, what makes the musical differ from opera is its being musically and vocally less demanding than the latter—essentially drama with singing rather than singing with drama. As such, why should it be denied what is permissible in spoken rather than sung theater, namely no happy ending? Art may use good cheer as a device, or it may use other things: insight, empathy, history, philosophy. In the best sense, entertainment is not synonymous with amusement.

the Broadway Mouth
February 5, 2008

1 comment:

JohnnyAngel said...

I couldn't agree more. I think people are afraid to be challenged in a musical - or at all. When I left the Cloverfield film last week, I heard **SPOILER** "Everyone dies? That's the worst movie I've ever seen." Well, sometimes in life, everyone does die. Does that mean we can't end a story that way? **SPOILER** In the musical I'm writing now, everyone dies. ;-) The real problem in musicals is that by default, those musicals with bleak endings also have more profound themes and require more attention.